Identified by Time Magazine as “one of the sharpest minds in the House,” Tom Cole is currently serving in his tenth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. At the outset of his service in Congress, Cole was named one of the “Five Freshmen to Watch” by Roll Call. In 2016, he was recognized by Newsmax as the “hardest working member in Congress.” He was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2017.
Cole is recognized as a tireless advocate for taxpayers and small businesses, supporter of a strong national defense and leader in promoting biomedical research. He is considered the foremost expert in the House on issues related to Native Americans and tribal governments.
Since 2009, Cole has served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, where he is currently Vice Ranking Member of the full committee and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (LHHS). While serving as LHHS Chairman during the 115th Congress, Cole shepherded completion of the subcommittee’s annual funding bill and participated in the bicameral conference committee that negotiated the final product for fiscal year 2019. When it was signed into law in September 2018, it marked the first time in 22 years that the bill was completed in full and on time.
Cole was appointed to the House Rules Committee in 2013 and has remained on the panel since then. He currently serves as Ranking Member, the top Republican leadership position on the committee. Cole also serves as a Deputy Whip for the Republican Conference and sits on the House Republican Steering Committee.
Cole has a significant background of service to his home state of Oklahoma. He has served as the State Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, District Director to former Congressman Mickey Edwards, a member of the Oklahoma State Senate and as Oklahoma’s Secretary of State. In this capacity, he served as former Governor Frank Keating’s chief legislative strategist and liaison to the state’s federal delegation. Keating tapped Cole to lead Oklahoma’s successful effort to secure federal funds to assist in the rebuilding of Oklahoma City in the wake of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19,1995.
Cole is widely regarded as one of the GOP’s top political strategists. He served as Executive Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee in the 1992 cycle. He also served as Chief of Staff of the Republican National Committee during the historic 2000 cycle in which Republicans won the presidency, the Senate and the House for the first time in 48 years. In the 2008 cycle, Cole served as Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Cole is a founding partner and past president of CHS & Associates, a nationally recognized political consulting and survey research firm based in Oklahoma City. The firm has been named one of the top 20 in its field and has dozens of past and current clients scattered across the country.
A former college instructor in history and politics, Cole holds a B.A. from Grinnell College, an M.A. from Yale University and a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma. Cole has been a Thomas Watson Fellow and a Fulbright Fellow at the University of London. Cole has also received honorary degrees from Randall University (formerly Hillsdale Bible College) in Moore, Oklahoma City University and Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. He previously served for six years on the Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents.
Cole is a fifth generation Oklahoman and an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation. He is one of only five Native Americans currently serving in Congress. Since 2009, he has served as the Republican Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus. The National Congress of American Indians has recognized Cole’s distinguished service with the Congressional Leadership award on three different occasions (2007, 2011 and 2017), more than any other Member of Congress in the history of the organization. He was inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 2004.
Cole’s late mother, Helen, was also a member of the Chickasaw Hall of Fame and served as a state representative, state senator and the Mayor of Moore in her native state of Oklahoma. Cole’s late father, John, served 20 years in the United States Air Force and worked an additional two decades as a civilian federal employee at Tinker Air Force Base.
Tom and his wife, Ellen, have one son, Mason, and reside in Moore, Oklahoma.
Chair of the Day
Mike Patterson serves as a strategic advisor to HNTB’s newly-named Oklahoma City office practice leader, Heidi Katz, PE. Together they will help drive growth and exceptional project delivery to highway and toll clients in the Central U.S. region.
Patterson also supports HNTB’s national DOT and toll market teams in building and fostering relationships with clients across the country, working closely with John Barton, PE, HNTB’s national DOT market sector leader and senior vice president.
Patterson’s impressive career in transportation and finance spans more than 40 years. He most recently served as Secretary of Transportation for the State of Oklahoma. He also held a variety of leadership roles with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation including executive director, chief financial officer, and comptroller.
“Mike’s accomplishments and contributions within the transportation industry are significant and we are pleased to welcome him to HNTB,” said Barton. “His transportation expertise and financial acumen are invaluable as HNTB continues to grow our portfolio of comprehensive services.”
Patterson’s industry and community involvement is significant as well, including numerous active and past board and committee positions with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; the Women’s Transportation Seminar – Oklahoma chapter, and as a current member of the Board of Directors of Oklahoma Employees Credit Union. “We are excited about adding Mike to our team here in Oklahoma,” said Katz. “He will be a tremendous resource for our clients as we continue to deliver quality work and great value to them on their most complex and important projects.”
He earned a Master of Business Administration–Finance and Bachelor of Science–Accounting from University of Central Oklahoma.